From all-star extreme metal to riffs built entirely around ring modulators: here are this week's essential guitar tracks

Nervosa perform in the music video for their song, Endless Ambition
(Image credit: Napalm Records/YouTube)

Welcome to Guitar World’s weekly roundup of the musical highlights from the, erm, world of guitar. Every seven days (or thereabouts), we endeavor to bring you a selection of songs from across the guitar universe, all with one thing in common: our favorite instrument plays a starring role.

Nervosa – Endless Ambition

What is it? Three-plus steamrolling minutes of brutal riff action from wave-making death-thrash outfit Nervosa – the Brazilian band has just undergone a significant personnel change ahead of a new era for the group. If Endless Ambition is anything to go by, said era will be one dominated by devastating guitar action, visceral songwriting and some of the most brutal tracks to emerge from the death metal scene in recent times.

Standout guitar moment: The picking speed here really is something to marvel at, and though the harmonized solos and riffs are strong contenders, it's the unrelenting barrage of pulverizing picking patterns that really knock the wind out of you, in the best way possible.

For fans of: Sepultura, Bloodbath, At the Gates

– Matt Owen

Empire State Bastard – Harvest

What is it? Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil and former Oceansize leader Mike Vennart have both long flirted with metal but have been cautious not to muddy the sonic waters of their respective projects. The pair dive headfirst into disgusting riffs on their debut effort as Empire State Bastard, however, accompanied by legendary Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo. Harvest resides in the dirty well between thrash and black metal, with a chaotic Faith No More edge. It’s bracing stuff.

Standout guitar moment: Harvest is all riffs, but we’re gonna single out that hornet’s nest of an ascending line at two minutes in.

For fans of: Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Slayer

– Michael Astley-Brown

Devon Gilfillian - Right Kind Of Crazy

What is it? A slick slice of R&B from the Nashville soul artist and member of Fender Next’s Class of 2023. For guitar-playing songwriters, it’s easy to forget that the instrument does not have to be the driving force of a song. Right Kind Of Crazy is a masterclass in an effective alternative approach, where instead of dominating the mix with a fat slab of mids, the guitar is sparingly incorporated. The result is a spacious arrangement that leaves room for the hip hop-influenced rhythm section and Gilfillian’s superb vocal. 

Standout guitar moment: Weirdly, it’s the fact that the guitar doesn’t stand out. Instead you’re left detecting subtle little scratches, mercurial slides and chiming, high frequency flourishes.

For fans of: Stevie Wonder, My Morning Jacket

– Matt Parker

Pete Townshend – Can't Outrun The Truth

What is it? The Who legend and master songwriter/guitarist’s first solo single in 30 years. Though the lonesome, lockdown-themed tune was composed by his partner, Rachel Fuller, Townshend’s rich vocals and arrangement give it the same air of timelessness that marks his best work with The Who.

Standout guitar moment: Those looking for windmills and Hiwatt stacks will come away disappointed, but Townshend’s gorgeous lap-steel slide work is a powerful reminder that the melodic substance of his guitar playing can be just as inspiring as its brute, groundbreaking strength. 

For fans of: The Who, Neil Young, Willie Nelson

Jackson Maxwell

Grentperez – Us Without Me

What is it? The latest single from new Fender Next recruit Grentperez, who joins a coveted collection of emerging and stratospherically successful artists – think Sam Fender, Wet Leg and Phoebe Bridgers – to have been sponsored by the Big F. Grentperez, with his soulful blend of acoustic R&B and bedroom pop, looks to follow in the footsteps of his Fender Next peers, with Us Without Me showcasing his grasp of heavenly fingerstyle acoustic progressions and melody. With Fender's backing, there's no telling what Grentperez's ceiling could be.

Standout guitar moment: Though this artist isn’t averse to calling upon catchy electric guitar hooks for his tracks, Us Without Me is all about his acoustic work.

For fans of: Beck, Beabadoobee, Hozier

– Matt Owen

CLT DRP – New Boy

What is it? The best damn use of ring modulator you’ve ever heard. The Brighton electro-punk trio’s guitarist, Scott Reynolds, has done that rarest of things, carving out an entirely unique voice – and with one of the effects world’s most undersung stompboxes to boot.

Reynolds may have a sunburst Les Paul slung around his shoulder, but there’s nothing conventional about his playing, which is somehow simultaneously angular and groovy.

Standout guitar moment: When that chorus riff drops. Menacing, heavy and utterly fresh. *adds ring modulator to cart*

For fans of: Nine Inch Nails, IDLES, Witch Fever

– Michael Astley-Brown

Enforcer - Nostalgia

What is it? The Swedish heavy metal traditionalists Enforcer hit it right on the nose with new single Nostalgia. It’s a track that, somewhat appropriately, pays tribute to the feeling of nostalgia through the medium of an 80s rock parody.  It’s all hair metal melodies, long hair and leathers. 

Standout guitar moment: That will be leather-clad frontman and guitarist Olof Wikstrand standing on a hilltop delivering an ’80s rock solo for the ages, as the setting sun glints through his platinum blonde locks.

For fans of: H.E.A.T., hair spray and tight trousers

– Matt Parker

Jimmy Page – The Seasons

What is it? Now, this is a treat… Following the most recent round of reissues and remasters of the band’s catalog, it was reasonable to believe that there weren’t too many treasures left unearthed in the Led Zeppelin vaults. Jimmy Page, though, recently uncovered a demo of The Seasons, the song that would later become Zeppelin’s mighty Rain Song. The Seasons demo is a fascinating look at a masterpiece in its development stage that doubles as an absolute stunner of an instrumental piece.

Standout guitar moment: Honestly? Page’s all-enveloping tone – especially his acoustic tone. The man often gets a lot of flack from the more chops-minded side of the guitar universe, but his revolutionary blend of classic folk influences with rock majesty is clear as day even on this demo. His playing and attack here paint a vivid picture, with each progression telling a story you can’t help but get lost in. 

For fans of: Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd

Jackson Maxwell

James Ivy – L-Trip

What is it? A new track from young Korean-American multi-instrumentalist and all-round music powerhouse James Ivy, whose 2023 has been defined by three standout singles. The latest, L-Trip, demonstrates both Ivy’s production chops and his penchant for driven six-string curations. 

Here, the guitar’s role is twofold: to provide powerful chord progressions in the key sections of the song, and to bend to Ivy’s instrumental will as he nonchalantly uses it as a tool for unruly reverb-riddled soundscapes.

Standout guitar moment: The layered, grainy strums of the chorus wouldn’t sound half as good as they do if they didn’t receive the support of those ambient lead lines, which have been drowned in gain and reverb to within an inch of their life to assume the form of shoegaze-y noise.

For fans of: The 1975, The Japanese House, Cafune

– Matt Owen

Sugar Horse – Thrash Music

What is it? Stoner riffs of the highest calibre – all delivered by a band of puppets (in the video at least). The UK doomgazers’ latest may be named after that speediest of heavy genres, but Thrash Music is a mid-tempo fuzz onslaught that only gets more monolithic as it builds to its cacophonic end.

Standout guitar moment: That acerbic noise solo at 1:13 – Kurt Cobain would be proud.

For fans of: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, Melvins, Kyuss

– Michael Astley-Brown

Charlie Cunningham – Downpour

What is it? The lead single from the UK singer-songwriter’s third album, Frame (out today). Cunningham spent three years in Seville learning flamenco guitar and is a formidable player, yet he only ever plays ‘enough’ for the track – and, sometimes, not enough, in our opinion… You can detect that Spanish warmth in his playing and writing, but its tempered by a quiet, gentle delivery, comparable to UK folk icon Nick Drake, or contemporaries like Ben Howard. 

Standout guitar moment: Downpour examines mental health and seems to capture the conversations we have with ourselves. The cycling, finger-picked guitar emulates the metaphor of the title, pitter pattering like rain on a fretboard.

For fans of: Nick Drake, Ben Howard

Matt Parker

Dust – Alternator 

What is it? An absolute scorcher from the Australian quintet’s brand-new album, et cetera, etc. The song has all the fury of the band’s Thatcher-era forebears, but is also – especially in its intriguing, post-rock-esque final minute – planted firmly in the 21st century.

Standout guitar moment: It all comes back to that jagged opening riff. Martial and sharp, it kicks Alternator off with fangs bared and knives out. 

For fans of: Gang of Four, Life Without Buildings, Idles

Jackson Maxwell

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.